The Role of Blogs in Boosting SEO: A Guide for Small Businesses

In the ever-evolving landscape of online marketing, businesses, big and small, are constantly seeking ways to enhance their visibility and reach their target audience effectively. One powerful tool that often gets overlooked is the humble blog. In this guide, we’ll delve into the significance of blogs in boosting SEO for small businesses and provide practical tips for creating content that not only resonates with your audience but also enhances your online presence.

Understanding the SEO-Blog Connection

Search engines love fresh, relevant content, and that’s where blogs come into play. Regularly publishing high-quality blog posts signals to search engines that your website is active and authoritative in your industry. Here’s how blogs impact SEO:

1. Keywords and Organic Traffic:

Blogs present an opportunity to naturally incorporate relevant keywords related to your business. Each blog post is a new entry point for potential customers to discover your website through organic search.

2. Internal Linking:

Incorporating internal links within your blog posts helps search engines navigate your website more effectively. It also encourages visitors to explore other areas of your site, increasing engagement.

3. Backlinks and Authority:

When your blog posts provide valuable information, other websites are more likely to link back to your content. These backlinks contribute to your site’s authority, a crucial factor in search engine rankings.

Crafting SEO-Friendly Blog Content

Now that we understand the SEO benefits of blogging, let’s explore how to create content that not only attracts search engines but also engages your audience:

1. Know Your Audience:

Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), understand your target audience. What questions do they have? What challenges are they facing? Tailor your content to address their needs and provide valuable solutions.

2. Keyword Research:

Identify relevant keywords related to your business and incorporate them naturally into your blog posts. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to discover high-impact keywords with reasonable competition.

3. Create Compelling Headlines:

Your blog post’s headline is the first thing readers see. Craft attention-grabbing headlines that not only include your target keyword but also entice users to click and read more.

4. Optimize Meta Tags:

Pay attention to your meta title and meta description. These elements not only influence search engine rankings but also impact click-through rates from search results.

5. Quality Over Quantity:

While consistency is key, prioritize quality over quantity. Well-researched, informative, and engaging content is more likely to be shared and linked to, contributing to your SEO efforts.

6. Promote Social Sharing:

Encourage readers to share your blog posts on social media. Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments, indirectly influence search engine rankings.

7. Monitor and Adapt:

Use analytics tools to track the performance of your blog posts. Understand which topics resonate most with your audience and adapt your content strategy accordingly.

Conclusion

In the digital age, where information is at our fingertips, leveraging the power of blogs is a strategic move for small businesses looking to enhance their online presence. By consistently creating high-quality, SEO-friendly content, you not only improve your search engine rankings but also position yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry. So, embrace the blogosphere, connect with your audience, and watch your business climb the ranks in the digital realm. Happy blogging!

WordPress Website Development for Small Businesses on a Budget in Vancouver, BC

Are you a small business owner in Vancouver, BC looking to build a website for your company? WordPress is a great platform to consider. With its user-friendly interface and customizable themes, you can create a professional-looking website even if you don’t have a lot of technical expertise. Plus, with a variety of affordable options available, you don’t have to break the bank to get your site up and running.

Here are some tips for affordable WordPress website development for small businesses in Vancouver, BC:

  1. Choose a Good Hosting Provider

Your website’s hosting provider is the foundation of your site. Make sure you choose a reputable provider that can handle your site’s traffic and provide reliable support. Some popular options include Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostGator.

  1. Select an Affordable Theme

There are thousands of free and premium themes available for WordPress. While premium themes offer more features and customization options, there are many great free themes that can give your site a professional look. Some popular free themes include Astra, OceanWP, and Hestia.

  1. Keep Plugins to a Minimum

Plugins are a great way to add functionality to your site, but they can also slow down your site’s performance and cause security issues. Stick to essential plugins, like security and SEO plugins, and make sure to keep them up to date.

  1. Optimize Your Site for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your site to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This can be a complex process, but there are a few basic strategies you can implement to improve your site’s SEO:

  • Use relevant keywords in your content
  • Use descriptive meta titles and descriptions
  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
  • Use internal linking to improve site navigation
  • Use alt tags for images
  1. Hire a Local Developer

While WordPress is relatively easy to use, it can still be helpful to have a professional developer create your site. Look for a local developer who can meet with you in person and discuss your site’s goals and objectives. Ask for references and portfolio examples to ensure you’re working with a reputable developer.

By following these tips, you can create an affordable WordPress website for your small business in Vancouver, BC. Remember to prioritize user experience and SEO to ensure your site is both user-friendly and easy to find in search engines.

How to write content for your website

A question I receive a lot when I first start working with a new client is “what kind of content should I have on my website?”.

While the answer to this question varies depending on the type of business, industry and target audience, I do think there are some general guidelines that can be helpful and serve as a starting point.

Website Content Outline

Business offering (1 line)

  • In one short sentence describe what you are offering: what problem are you solving with your product / service? This is the hook on the home page and the first thing a potential client will see

About

  • What problems does your business exist to solve?
  • What are your principles? What does your business stand for?
  • Who is the person / people behind the business? Don’t be afraid to show some personality.
  • What designations or experience do you have to back up your product / service offering? (aka why should a potential client buy from you?)

Products / Services

  • Overview of your offerings
  • Individual descriptions of each product or service you offer (may include pricing)

Contact

  • How should people get in touch with you? For a contact form, what information do you need from potential clients?

 

I think that this outline is a good way to get started and I often find that when you start writing your answers to these questions you will get into a flow that will give you more focus and tweak your content as you go.

Adapting to the crisis

Without a doubt, you have heard the phrase “in these unprecedented times” more than you can count in the last couple of months. The isolation and lockdown have taken a pretty big toll on almost all aspects of life and small businesses are no exception to this. As someone who is running a small business and who works closely with small businesses, I have experienced the challenges first-hand.

With that being said, it has also been quite interesting to see how businesses – small and big – have responded quickly to the crisis by changing the way they conduct business on a day-to-day basis. When the lockdown was announced by the Government of Canada, my inbox was flooded with a barrage of emails from different clients asking me to put up notifications on their websites. These notifications were not all about business closures. In fact, most of them were about notifying clients on the new processes that they quickly introduced to continue serving their client base. Physiotherapists introduced online appointment processes; businesses selling physical products quickly started offering their products online via e-commerce; I even have a long-time client who started organizing kids’ parties online through Zoom and other platforms.

The Chinese word for “crisis” is often invoked in the western world as being composed of two characters signifying “danger” and “opportunity”. As cliché as this may sound, we have seen this concept in action throughout the last couple of months in the way that different parts of society found new and innovative ways to respond to the crisis at hand. It has been a true test of our resilience and adaptability as a society and so far we managed to survive it.

As the restrictions are slowly being eased and economies slowly opening, it will be very interesting to see the long-lasting effects of this in the way we conduct business. Some say that remote work is here to stay and that this is the beginning of a new era of telecommuting while others say that as soon as the lockdown is over, we will slowly go back to the old ways. Regardless of what happens, one thing is for sure: human ingenuity and creativity will always find ways to adapt to its environment and keep pushing us forward.

A big shout out to all healthcare and frontline workers, as well as my clients who keep amazing me with their ideas every day!

Why your small business in Vancouver needs a website

Whether you are selling a physical product or providing a service, having a strong web presence is a vital component to your overall business strategy. Your small business needs a good website to be competitive.

How are consumers searching for businesses?

According to Recent Data, over 80% of customers rely on the Internet to find a business near them. To put this in context, your first impression with 8 out of 10 potential customers is made through the Internet. If you are not present in the sphere where majority of consumers are, you are missing 8 out of 10 potential customers for your business.

Is having a website enough?

With the widespread availability of high-speed Internet and mobile data, it has become ever more important for any business – small or big – to have a website. However, according to a 2018 data, only 64% of small businesses have their own website.

When you think about the mismatch between the number of consumers using the Internet to find a business (8 out of 10) and the fact that only 6 out of 10 small businesses are out there on the Internet to be found, it paints a picture full of opportunity! According to a report by GoDaddy, 79% of entrepreneurs with a business website expect to grow at least 25% in the next three to five years, compared to 64% of those without a site.

That being said, just having a website, any website, is not going to give you the results you are expecting. If this was 2005, it might have been a different story but today’s competitive landscape is quite different. There are more and more businesses on the Internet competing for customer attention and it takes more than a simple web page to capture them.

Is any web presence good presence?

While some argue that having a bad looking website is better than having no web presence at all, others claim that an outdated website might do more damage than good when it comes to your brand image and credibility in the consumers’ eyes.

Having worked in marketing and web development for quite some time, I tend to side with the latter argument. I have worked with small businesses in Vancouver that had old, outdated websites that didn’t work on mobile devices and just overall reflected badly on the company.

A colleague of mine used the analogy of showing up for an interview in your shorts and flip flops and expecting to get the job. In a lot of ways your first interaction with a potential customer is a job interview of sorts. When a potential customer lands on your website the interview starts. First impressions are crucial and customers make snap judgements about your business based on what they see on the website. Especially with the short attention span of today’s culture, you have a mere 7-8 second window to convince them to stay and browse some more.

What is a good website?

It comes down to providing quality content with compelling visuals and a nice, clean design. You know your business better than anyone and it is important that you craft your website copy with your customers in mind. What are they looking for? What problem(s) are you trying to solve? What might they be searching on the Internet to find your business? These are not easy questions to answer but they serve as guidelines to keep you focused and provide quality content.

The other piece of the puzzle is where I come in: designing and developing your website with best practices in mind. Some things that are important for a modern website are:

  • Mobile responsiveness
  • SEO friendliness
  • Flexible backend content management
  • Scalability

This list can go on but the above points provide a good starting point for any small business that is looking for a website. Mobile devices account for over 50% of web traffic worldwide, which means your website needs to be responsive to all kinds of device screens out there. Furthermore, your website needs to be built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. This is how search engines like Google and Bing find and index your website so that it shows up on search results.

If you are looking to get a website for your small business in Vancouver or you are looking to update your old website, contact me to discuss your project!

What we can learn from “The Ice King”

You’ve probably heard the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Now, trash might not be the best analogy for ice but the expression holds true when we think about the ice trade of the 19th century.

Frederic TudorThis is Frederic Tudor. If you’ve never heard of him before, it’s okay. Neither had I until I recently read Steven Johnson’s brilliant book “How We Got To Now” where he presents 6 discoveries humans made that propelled our species forward to where we are today. And believe it or not, ice was one of them. I am not going to talk about why ice was a game-changing discovery and how it affected human civilization in this article but instead I want to share some interesting facts from Tudor’s venture as the largest ice trader of his time.

What is the big deal with ice?

In the 19th century, ice was a luxury good that was mainly consumed by the rich. Unless you were living in a cold climate where water froze in winter to create natural ice, it was not attainable for the average person.
Frederic Tudor was born to a wealthy family in Boston. As a young man he spent a lot of time in the American Northeast, as well as Cuba. Having experienced extreme cold and extreme heat, he thought that people in warm climates like Cuba would benefit greatly from the wonders of ice, which was abundant in Northeastern United States. It’s also important to note that in the 19th century, ice was the closest thing to refrigeration; it was not only used to cool drinks but also as an air conditioner. (It was not uncommon for hospitals to hang large blocks of ice off the ceiling to cool the rooms).

Tudor’s idea was simple (at least in theory): cut blocks of ice from the frozen lakes and rivers in New England and ship them to warmer climates where people had no access to ice.
There were a few major challenges with this idea, the most important of which was keeping the ice intact without melting during shipment. Over the course of a decade Tudor tried different ideas and lost his entire family fortune in the process, going to debtors prison twice. But he never gave up. He believed that he had a great idea and despite all the hurdles he wanted to see it through.

From prisoner to “The Ice King”

His breakthrough came when he finally discovered the perfect way to insulate the ice while traveling on ships for weeks on end: sawdust. He found out that the sawdust was a much more efficient way to keep the ice intact than hay, which is what he had been using until that point. From that moment onward, his business took off and he died a millionaire in 1864.
Now here’s the brilliance of this entire ice business: Tudor took a product (ice) that cost nothing except the labor to cut frozen chunks out of the lake, he then shipped it for a bargain on boats that were travelling practically empty on their way south, using an insulator that cost him nothing because sawdust was the byproduct of forestry industry in New England and was practically everywhere.
Free ice, free sawdust, empty vessels.

An average New Englander’s “trash” became the “treasure” that Tudor “The Ice King” delivered to far away places.

Tudor’s ice trade was also one of the first examples of a “zero-waste” business model, without even consciously trying to be a sustainable operation. His product was naturally occurring in one part of the world, covered by a recycled byproduct from another industry, transported on vehicles that would otherwise make the trip empty and waste fuel, as well as space.

Lastly, Tudor’s ice trade was a major paradigm shift in business principles. Up until that point, businesses were always attracted to “high energy” locations. Warm climates had fertile soil that could be worked all year round and yielded good produce whereas places like the American midwest were cold with barren lands that could not be used half the time. Never before Tudor had anyone considered that these cold places could offer anything to the rest of the world, let alone frozen water.
Looking at the ice trade of the 19th century in hindsight may not impress us too much, since most of us were born into a world that had refrigerators. (I don’t remember not having a refrigerator ever). But when we think about these events in their own context it becomes a whole different story. People like Tudor are the visionaries of their centuries. They could see what others did not at the time and were probably considered crazy. But that’s just the thing about visionaries, their ideas are so far ahead of their time that sometimes it takes decades for the rest of us to catch up.

4 Ways to Make Your Small Business Stand Out

The Small Business Challenge